tv KQED Newsroom PBS February 4, 2022 7:00pm-7:31pm PST
♪ tonight on "kqed newsroom," we talk with special guest oakland mayor libby schaaf about what she has accomplished in her two terms as leader of a diverse city of nearly half 1 million people in the work still left to be done. and we'll talk with our panel of reporters about this week's news, which includes the end of death row. single payer health care legislation. and how reducing positive help a baby's brain developed. we embark on a nighttime safari to discover animals glowing in the dark in this week's look at "something beautiful." coming to you from kqed
headquarters . hello, welcome to the show. this is "kqed newsroom," and i'm priya david clemens. mayor libby schaaf took office in 2015 with an agenda to focus on public safety, education, and housing . in the past seven years, she's had a few other issues added to her plate, including a controversial plan to close many of oakland's public schools p at ongoing questions about how the oakland police department is run, and a global pandemic that especially impacted the vibrant black, brown, and asian communities of oakland. schaaf has tackled innovative social experiments, including the recently launched guaranteed income pilot project. joining me now via skype from oakland is mayor libby schaaf. mayor schaaf, thank you for joining us. you have been a frequent guest
on "kqed newsroom" since you begin your tenure as mayor. we wish we could've had you in studo today. covid does get in the way of that sometimes, so we're looking at each other across the bay in screens today , but let's take a look at some of those changes that came into place because of what happened during the pandemic, some things that were a little more positive that we enjoyed like the slow streets program. just unfortunately, recently last week, oakland's bicycle is a pedestrian advisory commission said it's going to be dismantling the slow streets program. do you think that is the right thing to do? >> we're not dismantling it. with hitting it to adjust to the current conditions. we're going to be making slow streets permanent where appropriate, but people are going back to work now. cars are back on the streets, and so it's not as safe to have the number of slow streets that we rolled out with such urgency at the beginning of the
pandemic when we were all dying to get out of our homes, but in a socially distanced manner to see our neighbors, but see them safely. and we're not rolling back a flex street oakland is blessed with the best weather in the world. i mean, look outside right now, and that's why outdoor dining, really reimagining our public common, that is here to stay, and we're going to continue to double down on many of the lessons that we did learn during the pandemic. >> let's turn to another topic, the sports front. we have so me sports fans here. there has been another step forward with the oakland a's' stadium project. they voted to send the environmental impact report to the city council which you applauded as a hue win, but the a's said they are continuig to look at las vegas as well for a new stadium, so what do you think? how much are you willing to do as mayor to keep the a's here, and what do you think, no,
you're not willing to do? >> i've been very clear about no public money for stadiums, and the a's have made that commitment. this is a prop privately financed ballpark, and to the extent that this is going to fuel the creation of an incredible waterfront neighborhood, 18 acres of public parks, thousands and thusands of jobs, and affordable housing that we need so much, so this is everything that , as a mayor, i could want, and the excitement around this ball park district is helping us win huge grants from the federal government. you saw just days after biden signs that infrastructure bill. oakland was rewarded $14.5 million to start making the mobility improvements to ensure that this project is successful and that we use it as a catalyst to make safety improvements, pollution reduction improvements, more equity to connect underserved communities
with that incredible asset that is our waterfront. >> you do have some pushback from the maritime community there, though, and some residents concerned about the vastness of this development. >> listen, i have great respect for our maritime community. they look across the bay and see what happened to san francisco's port, which is now a real estate development corporation. that is not going to happen in oakland , and we are continuing to listen to them, to put many protections in place, and to use this project as a catalyst to actually find the protections for our port economy. it is our economic engine. >> moving on, because we have so much to talk about. this week, the oakland school board presented its plan to merge or close 15 schools. a lot of that control rests in
the hands of the school board. for you as a mayor, as a parent of a public school student, what do you feel is important to do to support the school system? >> you know, i really feel for parents, students, teachers. we have been through so much drama, and they have every right to feel distrustful and fearful about this decision, but i believe that it is different this time. this is not just some painful but necessary budget cut. when you look at districts like stockton, fremont, san jose, they serve roughly the same number of students, about 33,000, but they do it in almost half the campuses, between 41 and 48 campuses in those three districts, where's oakland has 80 campuses. this is an opportunity to do better for our students, our educators, our families, and i trust this leader to deliver on
that promise in a way that has never happened before. >> mayor schaaf, when you are mayor elect, before you had even taken office, you joined us here in the studio and spoke to our political correspondent scott shafer about your goals for policing in oakland. let's listen in to your thoughts at the time. >> number one priority is public safety. that is something oakland has struggled with a long time, and it is the most basic service people deserve. oaklanders need to feel confident that a cop will come when they call. they need to feel like your city is safe, and we need to make sure the rest of the world sees oakland as a safe, vibrant, exciting city. >> now, homicides in oakland did see a steady decline for several years after you took office. they have climbed significantly in the past two years. the pandemic has had a huge part to play in that increased. tell about the highlights, some
moments he felt really made a difference and brought those levels down. >> it was a moment of, of awe to see we could actually do it. oakland cut violence in half and kept it there for several years. we were being written about in national publications. i was being invited to speak at national conferences about the oakland miracle, and the pandemic just ripped all that progress away in such a heartbreaking fashion. and it's because the cease-fire approach, which is very comprehensive, and it uses enforcement as a last resort, although it is a part of the strategy. so many aspects of it were kind of suspended or interrupted because of the pandemic. now, i will say that oakland continues to be off the 10 most dangerous cities list as far as i know. when i became the mayor, we had just been second on the list nationally, so it's
no comfort to me, but the surge in gun violence that oakland has experienced is not unique, but i am cautiously optimistic that as the pandemic restrictions are being lifted, as we are beginning to return to our new normal, that this is a part of that, but, you know, the stress, the sense of kind of anything goes because the world is ending? that continues to concern me, and that's a price we're going to be paying from our schoolkids to our crime rates for a very long time. >> and you have described the oakland police department over the years as a place with a toxic, macho culture. that has been evidenced by scandal after scandal. do you feel that in the seven years you have been mayor, you have made enough change, as much change as you could have liked to have made? i mean, the
oakland police department is still under federal receivership. have we come far enough? where do we need to get to? >> priya, i believe in continual improvement, and the work of making police a more progressive, more responsive to community will never end. i can say, though, this is an entirely different police department than the one that i met when i became the mayor. the culture, the leadership completely transformed, and i want to say that the federal judge has recognized those amazing accomplishments. national and as we are ranked first in the nation for having the biggest reductions in racial disparities in our arrests. one of the lowest officer shooting rates year after year. these reforms are paying off when you look at oakland in comparison to other major departments across the city,
and i want to compliment our new police chief. he is creating a level of trust with the community. the fact he is born and raised in oakland and has so much trust built with community, something that he himself has earned while working as a police officer, has made a tremendous difference. now, i am concerned with the attrition rate. i am excited about the new classes of recruits, especially a lot more born and raised in oakland, and that is something we're going to continue to do to grow kind of the next generation of police here in oakland. >> another recent initiative you launched is the universal basic income program in oakland. have you seen yet any data how that program is doing? do you expect he will expand it before you leave office? >> well, we just started the expansion. we started with 300 families in a concentrated area of east oakland. we actually just started cutting checks to a citywide cohort. we're doing two very
rigorous evaluations, so we won't have that data until the evaluations are complete, but we have pulled out some storytellers, like alicia rowe, who is raising her grandson, and it is amazing to hear just the sense of well-being people have when they get that extra $500 a month. the dignity, the lifting of stress, and the ability to start dreaming for their children or the children they are taking care of, and that is something we have heard from alicia. we will be checking in with her and even giving the press an opportunity to to hear in her own word how she has experienced a guaranteed income, and we're going to be looking to see what its impacts can be in other ways, both as part of the national movement.
i'm of founding mirror for mayors for guaranteed income, and all these demonstrated projects are actually combining some of our evaluation data to look at a national trend >> so you are in your final year in office. what do you have on your agenda? >> well, priya, there are things that need to get over the finish line, like the new ballpark at howard terminal , but i am not satisfied with three areas in this city, and i am really pushing my staff to move the needle on safety, on that crime rate, on homelessness , which has been a crisis particularly in california that we have to address with so much more urgency, and then with the general state of cleanliness in our city. you know, i'm born and raised in oakland. lived here all my life. i've never seen our city looking so dirty, and our
ability to, like, catch these illegal dumpers, get people to help contribute to beautifying our public spaces, this is something that i am really going to be doubling down on during this last year in office because everyone deserves a clean, beautiful, safe neighborhood. >> mayor libby schaaf, thank you for your time. >> thank you, priya. california's covid case numbers are steadily improving after the omicron surge to cold in december. the state now has a positivity rate of 13%, down from 20% two weeks ago, according to the state health department. earlier this week, governor gavin newsom announced his administration will be releasing a new plan for the state's response to covid-19 for when the pandemic becomes endemic. newsom is also facing criticism, again come after photo surface of him and other politicians, including san
francisco mayor london breed without masks on at the nfc championship game in los angeles last sunday in violation of sofi stadium rules . joining me now, scott shafer. hi, scott. >> hello. >> and the cohost of kqed for him, alexis madrigal. scott, let's start with you here. have governor newsom and mayor breed been facing much backlash of photos them not wearing masks? >> mask gate. >> i think that the way, say, his dinner at french laundry did, but i think that, you know, undercuts his moral authority. he has been asking people to put their masks on. he said, you know, he had his mask in his left hand and took it off to take that photo with magic johnson, within minutes of him saying that come other photos of him emerged, and i think in some ways, he's reflecting what a lot of us feel, which is fatigue in wearing masks and
worrying about these things. >> i should point out we both have been tested, so there's a reason we are he's sitting here unmasked! >> i know i have left the house without a mask and i'm like, "i've to go back to the house," if you just said, "look, like all of us, i'm tired of wearing a mask and i wanted to take a good photo," but he went too far and got caught up in a lie essentially, so there's been criticism of him on that score. it's funny. mayor london breed, i have not heard much criticism with her . like him she also dined at french laundry a day after newsom did, but he took the bullet for her politically, and i think that's kind of happened here as well. >> oh, alexis, you want to get on this. >> i think i care less about the individual actions of these political actors, and what i really care about is, you know, what is that endemic plant
going to file? because it's i do feel like windows incantations like "herd immunity," that is a stand-in for, "everything is going to back to normal," and i want a plan that gets us there, and i can imagine what that is. >> we should be seeing it in the next few weeks from governor newsom. he did also make an announcement this week not on covid, but the state is dismantling death row . alexis, you want to kick off this conversation about why this is happening? >> death row prisoners have been held at san quentin for a very long time, and it's a separate part of the prison, and it's just where guys went to just sit and wait because for many years now, we have not actually been doing executions, so the newsom administration has put a moratorium on actually executing people, but you had all these facility sitting there. you had all these guys inexpensive conditions, solo cells, and not with the rest of the general population, so what's happening here is more like logistical. it's more of a mechanistic move against the death penalty in that they are actually
dismantling the place where these guys are being held and distributing to other maximum- security prisons around. >> wright, and scott, you have been out to san quentin. i know you saw scot peterson out there. >> playing basketball, yeah. >> so what are your thoughts about this as more evidence, as alexis said, that we're not doing these sorts of things anyway. >> it's been 15, 16 years since we've had an execution. ironic thing is, because of court orders, california spent more than $800,000 a few years ago to upgrade the execution facility , which has never been used and may never you be used. you know, i think what's interesting to me is the reason these inmates, as alexis just said, are being transfered to other prisons is voters in -- i think it was 2016, pats prop 66, which was supposed to expedite the death penalty. of course, that has not worked. but it also required inmates in death row to work, and money
that they would earn from work would be put into a fund for restitution for victims, so the state sort of used that as a reason to start whittling down the population on death row, so they have been moved out, and as gavin newsom said the other day, that's just following the will of the voters, but i think it also really serves his own policy of trying to dismantle the death penalty in california, which he can't do. the voters have to do that, but ina sense, it's not really happening. even though we have not had an execution in , you know, 16 years, more than 100 inmates on death row have died during that period of time, mostly from natural causes, including covid- 19. there been a few suicides and violent deaths as well. >> the few remaining, they're going to the seven maximum- security prisons and other places in california. >> and it still a pretty big number. there are hundreds of men there. a small number of women in a separate facility, obviously. i do think that people are
split on the death penalty, and support for it has been going down. i think the concern which i don't think is found it is that some of these men who have been sentenced to death will ultimately get out of prison, and i think that is not what we're talking about here. if anything, they will die in prison, but it just won't be from execution. >> you went to a much more conservative part of california where support for the death penalty is high because you are following the story about a recall of a conservative supervisor of their who is being recalled from the right by a militia led organization over covid-19, over mask mandates, vaccine mandates, so tell us about what you saw as you went to shasta county and what's happening there. >> shasta county is a couple hours north of sacramento, a very red county that voted signify percent for donald trump in 2020. so, all five of their county supervisors are republican, but three of them weren't republican enough for some of the really extreme right wing groups in the county, and that includes a militia, that
includes the state of jefferson people, a movement i want to secede from the state of california, so the militia and these other groups, anti- vaxxers,second supporters, collected enough supervisor signature to recall a reagan republican. they are calling him a rino. certainly by san francisco circumstances, he is right wing. they put this recall on the ballot, tuesday is the election, but it does look like he's going to be recalled. >> alexis, i want to come to you with the story with a guest you had this week. it spoke to me in particular because this week in the legislature, we ended the thought that single-payer úhealth care might come into ply anytime soon.
there was a single-payer health care bill carried by assembly member ash cholera. that did not make it out of the assembly. there's been a huge cost associated with that program that generally seems to keep it from progressing, but the connection for me with your story this week was on forum. you had a guest on who talked about the link between poverty, not enough money, and how a baby's brain develops, talking about public health and how we look at using our money for the health of people in california. this was a really interesting experiment that happened. i'm curious if you could tell us a little bit more about what they found there. >> sure, and i think it's a fascinating study, just the results. it's kind of mind blowing could you give a set of mother $333 a month, another set of mothers $20 a month, and then you put their babies in an eeg and measure their brain waves, and you actually find a biologically detectable difference between the babies whose mothers got $333 a month and the mother that got $20 per the question is we don't really know the mechanism for that. is it that the mothers have more money, so there's better
nutrition and they can spend more time with their children because they have to work less? at this is like the first pebble in a whole, whole rock field. papers are going to come out about this particular study, which is called "babies' first few years." they show by alleviating poverty come up by just making people less poor, yulin cruz the cognitive development of their children, and is part of the whole universal basic income debate, just part of the idea that we can separate our social economic circumstances from our health and development. >> alexis, what else is coming up for you in this coming week? what are you looking at? what are you thinking about this weekend as you are going into the next? >> locally, there's a huge debate, very heated going on in oakland about the closure of some public schools, so for us, we're trying to figure out who are the right voices who can speak to the various sides of that debate. on the other end
of the scale, globally, we are interested in what's happening in ukraine. we're following it closely, and i think we're going to take it angle looking at some of the cyber attacks occurring there at the ukraine/russian border. >> that will be "forum" at 9:00 next week here at scott? >> this is the final week before the february 15th election to recall three school board members and decide who's going to fill out the rest of the assembly seats. we're looking at that. also, president biden said he's going to name a new supreme court nominee. it's going to be a black woman. we're keeping an eye out for that. it will happen in february sometime. we don't know if it's going to happen next week, but we are keeping an eye out on that as well. >> scott shafer with kqed, good to hear what's going on with your word. alexis madriga, thank you so much for being on our show. this is your very first, inaugural visit here to "kqed newsroom." >> thanks for having me. >> it's been excellent. thank you will. this week's "something
♪ >> if you missed it this time, glow-fari. will be back in november. to our viewers, we continue to thank you for writing in. we discussed a rebounding growth of monarch butterflies. in response, we received this message from rosario, who said she and others in the east bay have been working to help the butterflies drive here it . " i would like to share with you in san leandro, california, many of us are planting in our yards milkweed. monarch butterflies look for this plant in order to lay their eggs. i keep them safe in cages i made with tulle and zippers until they emerge and are ready to fly."
yamiche: domestic fights and foreign challenges. >> pres. trump is wrong. yamiche: vice president mike pence rights of biting review of the present he wants serve. >> if i run and i win we will treat those people from january 6 fairly. if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. because they are being treated unfairly. yamiche: as former president trump flexes his grip on the gop and continues to lie about the election. plus -- >> this force is trained and equipped for a variety of missions and to reassure and defend our allies. yamiche: president biden deploys troops to eastern europe.